MS4 Measurement Goal

The City of Houston Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program manages the stormwater runoffs from the private developments and into the City’s right-of-way to prevent or reduce the discharge of pollution into the surface water of the State. To protect the surface water, both the City and communities are encouraged to implement best management practices to control the stormwater pollution, prior to discharging into the MS4.

The MS4 program consist of Houston Police, Houston Health, Solid Waste Management, Fleet Management, Houston Aviation System, Houston Legal, Parks and Recreation, Houston Public Works, and private communities within the City Limits to carry out the pollution prevention activities, compliance, monitoring, and reporting to the TCEQ and EPA annually:

  • Cleanup/repair of inlets and manholes. 
  • Inlets and Manholes Inspection 
  • Roadside Ditch Re-establishment 
  • Storm Sewer Cleaned/Flushed  
  • Storm Sewer inspected. 
  • Inspection and control of new and post-construction
  • Plan review in compliance with MS4 program 
  • Reinforcement: issue Notice of Violations (NOV), inspect stormwater quality properties, issue hard holds orders, evaluate projects, issued new Storm Water Quality (SWQ) permits and renewal.

​​​The City of Houston roadways activity include:

  • City of Houston streets swept by Airport
  • Trails cleaned by Houston Parks Board via 380 Agreement 
  • City of Houston streets swept by Houston Public Works Transportation & Drainage Operations
  • City of Houston streets swept and litter collection by Management Districts 

Flood control is the responsibility of the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) for most of the major flood control facilities, within the Harris County are included in the City of Houston limit.

Pesticides are regulated by the federal and state agencies. The City of Houston does not regulate the commercial application or distribution of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. However, the City of Houston uses state licensed personnel to application to City of Houston-owned facilities and right-of-way.   

Preventing Illicit Discharges 

  • The Health Department Bureau of Pollution Control in conjunction with the Houston Police Department and the Houston Public Work Environmental Team, addresses pollutants in discharges to the City of Houston storm sewer system through the enforcement of Texas Water Code and various City of Houston ordinances. The City of Houston learns of possible illicit discharges from a variety of sources. Reporting contact for elicit Discharges: City of Houston’s 3-1-1 Program; hotline telephone number (713-640-4399). 

Infiltration of Seepage

  • This plan is based on an approach to correct sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) though routine maintenance of sewer systems. As part of this program, the City of Houston also conducts delittering before mowing the City of Houston’s rights of way.


  • The City of Houston is implementing a Floatables removal program using outside contractors. The program captures floatables from rights of way and the City of Houston owned properties before entry into channels by an aggressive litter program for the purpose of reducing litter in impacted areas such as roadside ditches along major thoroughfares near an outfall into a major drainage-way or bayou.  

Proper Management of Used Oil and Toxics 

  • The City of Houston’s recycling program include Household Hazardous Waste.  

City of Houston has specific procedures for taking proper emergency response action following any accidental discharge involving hazardous materials, from the smallest to the largest and most complex, which threatens the safety, health, or welfare of the citizens of Houston. It also provides emergency information to reduce hazards to life, health, property, and the environment caused by an incident involving an uncontrolled release or spill of hazardous materials. 

Prior to issuance of the permit, the City of Houston addressed pollutants in discharges to its storm sewer system through enforcement of the Texas Water Code and various City of Houston ordinances. These efforts included the regular inspection of municipal solid waste management facilities by the Health Department.  

The City of Houston inspects and reinspects all sites that submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) or Construction Site Notice (CSN).  

The City of Houston is engaged in developing and implementing a comprehensive storm water public education campaign that addresses MS4 related issues on illicit discharge, household hazardous waste management, littering prevention, proper management of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers and more. The City of Houston also engages with other organizations to develop sustainable programs that protect Wetlands and Wildlife Habitats. 

The City of Houston’s field screening program includes dry and wet weather screening to major outfalls. In addition, the Houston Health Department routinely monitors the City of Houston’s bayous and tributaries. 

The Interim Bacteria Reduction Plan (IBRP) become part of the permit package in 2007. The City of Houston has updated Sections 1 through 11 of the Storm Water Management Plan to reflect activities related to IBRP.